SEO, Lies and Videotape – 7 Common Lies Told by Search Engine Optimization Providers
October 31, 2008 • Glenn Murray
I’m ashamed to say it, but many SEOs are just plain dishonest. They know that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an utter mystery to most of their customers, and that nobody outside of Google really, truly knows Google’s ranking rules. So they lie. And they get away with it.
This article lifts the lid on a few of those lies. Hopefully it’ll help you avoid those unscrupulous SEOs and find an SEO company that can really help you. (Rest assured, there are plenty of those about, too.)
Lie 1 – “We have a deal with Google”. Untrue. No SEO provider is in bed with Google. That would totally undermine the relevance of Google’s results. The truth is, we’re all on the outside, looking in. Doing our best to unravel the complex mathematical mystery that is Google’s ranking algorithm. Every SEO provider claims to have an excellent understanding of the algo. But you should always just let their results do the talking.
Lie 2 – Timeframe guarantees. Google’s rankings are automatically determined using incredibly complex mathematical algorithms. They’re Google’s single most valuable asset, and they’re devised by the world’s biggest math brains, who are paid squillions by Google. SEO providers that offer timeframe guarantees are suggesting that they’re: a) privy to Google’s most valuable business secret; and/or b) smarter than all of the world’s biggest math brains combined. The truth is that although good SEO providers have a very good understanding of what tactics result in a high ranking, they derive this understanding through trial-and-error only, and they don’t know 100% how long things will take.
Lie 3 – Unlimited keywords. This one defies logic. To optimize your site for a keyword or keyword phrase, you just use it more often than any other word or phrase. But because your site has only a finite number of words, there’s a limit to the number of keywords you can target. For simplicity’s sake, let’s consider a single page of 100 words. If I optimize that page for “SEO copywriter Australia”, that means I have to include the phrase “SEO copywriter Australia” around three times in the copy (for a ‘keyword density’ of 3% – which is a reasonable target). That’s a total of nine words out of my 100. Not too hard to do. In fact, I could also optimize for “case studies” and “sales letters”, without too much trouble. (I’d then be using 21 out of my 100 words – not easy, but do-able.) If I try really, really hard, I might be able to optimize for “annual reports” and “speeches and scripts”, as well, but that’s about the upper limit, because then I’d be using a total of 33 words out of my 100, just for keywords. Doesn’t leave much for meaningful content. Realistically, the upper limit for optimization is about four to five unique keyword phrases per page. (If you don’t believe me, give it a go. See how meaningful your content ends up if you try to optimize for more than four or five keyword phrases.) Now your SEO provider might argue that they’re going to target a different five keyword phrases on each page, but that’s not such a good idea, either. Then you’d only have one page on each ‘subject’ – not really enough to prove to Google that you’re an authority on any of ‘em!
Lie 4 – Package deals, like ‘Economy’ or ‘Professional’. Huh?! You either rank well or you don’t! Does an ‘Economy’ package get you to page 5, whereas a ‘Professional’ package gets you to page 1? What’s the difference? Or do they mean they’ll only target one keyword phrase for ‘Economy’ customers? That’s not much use to anyone! Or, in fact, do they mean they’ll target an unlimited number of keywords for ‘Professional’ customers? If so, I’d refer you to Lie 3 above…
Lie 5 – Displaying logos for big-name clients. Some SEO companies falsely claim – or imply – they’ve done SEO work for big-name clients. Sometimes they’ve done some other sort of work for that client (who knows… maybe data entry, maybe gardening!), and sometimes they’ve never done any work for that client, at all. For example, I heard of an SEO company that claimed a MAJOR bank as a client, when all they had ever done for that bank was SEM – not SEO – for a single keyword, once, long ago. So always be sure to ask exactly what your SEO provider has done for each client it claims. And if you’re still in doubt, ask for references.
Lie 6 – Submitting your site to thousands of search engines, over and over, will get you a high ranking. It doesn’t. In fact, I’m amazed this one’s still going around. The truth is, you usually don’t have to submit your site at all. Search engines are, after all, created to FIND and INDEX websites. So theoretically, they should be able to find and index yours without any help from you! Of course, it never hurts to be on the safe side. So if you want some peace of mind, you can certainly submit your site to Google. But you can forget the others. And you should never pay someone else to submit your site to Google. It’s easy and free. Just go to http://www.google.com.au/addurl and type in your URL. That’s all there is to it. (Note that if take up one of those offers to submit your site to thousands of search engines, all you’ll do is increase the amount of email spam you get!)
Lie 7 – Spend a lot on Google AdWords, and you’ll automatically get a high ranking. Absolute rubbish! Although Google (and most of the other search engines) offer PPC ads, those ads are absolutely independent of your site’s natural ranking. Google’s success relies on its ability to deliver relevant results. The moment it took money in return for natural search ranking, its reputation for relevance would be justifiably ruined. It’ll never happen.
So there you have it. All things considered, it’s hardly surprising that many business owners and marketing managers are a little daunted by the prospect of SEO. But it’s not all doom and gloom. The trick is to know a little about SEO BEFORE you engage an SEO provider. That way, you won’t just have to take their word for everything!
I’ll be releasing V2.0 of my SEO ebook soon. SUBSTANTIALLY updated. If you want to be notified when it’s released, please email me at email@example.com or bookmark the ebook sales page.